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Choosing to homeschool is not an easy decision. The reality is that homeschool is not for everyone. It’s a big undertaking for everyone involved, and it’s not a decision that should be made without careful consideration. I want to do my part in helping you decide whether or not homeschool is the best choice for your family. That’s why I’m sharing this list of the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling.
Hopefully, a careful review of them will help you decide if this is the path you want to take. And shouldn’t be done on a whim. It’s important for you to consider all the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling.
What is homeschooling?
First things first, let’s talk about what homeschool is. Having homeschooled all of my five daughters, I could write an entire class on this topic alone. However, for the purpose of this article, I’ll keep it simple.
Homeschooling is a form of education where, instead of completing their education in a school under the guidance of paid teachers, children learn outside of a school under the instruction of their parent(s). The parents (or family as a whole) decides what will be learned and how it will be taught (though there may be government regulations that apply, depending on where the family lives).
Homeschooling is not some new form of education. There was a time in our global society when home education was the norm – not the outlier. Many of the brilliant minds from the pages of our history books were the products of homeschooling. This includes presidents (like George Washington and Woodrow Wilson), artists (such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Claude Monet), inventors (like Alexander Graham Bell, Benjamin Franklin, and the Wright brothers), and writers (a few that come to mind are Agatha Christie, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Robert Frost, and Beatrix Potter). Even Albert Einstein has a history as a homeschooler!
When it comes to showing that homeschooling is a viable option, this (incomplete) list of names is pretty impressive. But it’s not enough. You need to consider lots of pros and cons to decide if homeschooling really is the best option for your family.
Advantages of Homeschooling
If there is one benefit of homeschooling that I would list as the biggest, it would have to be the fact that you can tailor each child’s education so that it is the best possible fit for them. Each child can learn what they need to learn, dive deep into the subjects they love, and (possibly most importantly) learn at their own pace.
For example, if your child has a bent towards art, you can focus on giving them plenty of opportunities for creative projects. If they are brilliant at science or technology, you can implement a ton of hands-on activities. If they need extra time to master something – you can give them that time. If they are ready to push forward to the next subject (or even grade level), you can do that as well.
Even with special education programs, gifted and talented programs, and advanced placement programs, public and private schools can’t really offer the same degree of customization that homeschooling does.
Small student-to-teacher ratio
One factor that appeals to a lot of parents (even in public and private school settings) is having a smaller student-to-teacher ratio. Research shows that when teachers are responsible for fewer students (and, as a result, are able to develop deeper connections with each student), the students benefit more than when teachers are responsible for more students.
In the homeschool world, it’s not uncommon for there to be a lot of one-on-one work, even in families with multiple children. In this respect, homeschooling definitely has the advantage over public and private schools, where there may be over 30 students in a single classroom.
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Another benefit of homeschooling is that it offers a greater degree of consistency than public or private school.
In public/private school, you may find that there is a huge degree of difference in how classes are taught from one class, grade level, school, or district to the next. Teachers across the board have different curricula, materials, and teaching styles. In one grade, with one teacher, your child may excel. Then, in the next grade, they may struggle – not because of the content, but because of the way information is presented.
This becomes even more problematic when you and your family move around often. It’s not uncommon for students who move around a lot to either miss out on information or to learn the same information over and over again due to the variety of curricula.
When you homeschool each year, though, you are the one developing the lesson plans for each student, so you can ensure that their education is smooth and complete.
Another thing about homeschooling that puts it at a distinct advantage is that you have more control over how your family spends its time. Since you are the one planning the lessons, you can weave in plenty of time for field trips, extracurricular activities, family vacations, or just plain old relaxing.
You don’t have to operate based on the typical school day, where your kids are “in school” from 7:30am to 3pm. You can do lessons in the morning and have the rest of the day free. Or spread lessons throughout the day. You could only do school on certain days, even just 3 days a week if you prefer. You can work all year round or take extra long summer vacations. It’s totally up to you!
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Free to experiment
To round out the benefits of homeschooling, I have to say that the freedom to experiment is terrific. When things aren’t working out in public or private school, there’s only so much you can do – and much of it involves going through the right procedures.
With homeschooling, if you realize that something isn’t working (such as the schedule or the curriculum you are using), you always have the option of adjusting as needed. You don’t have to wait it out until the semester or school year is over. You don’t have to get permission from the principal or try to convince the teacher to take action. YOU are the principal and the teacher.
Disadvantages of Homeschooling
Big time commitment
Although it is true that homeschooling affords you a lot of flexibility when it comes to teaching lessons, it can’t be denied that it also requires more time of you than if your children were enrolled in public or private school.
As a homeschool family, you must play the role of both parent and educational guide – along with everything those roles require. You have to plan and execute the lessons, gather the materials, and (depending on where you live) adhere to testing, grading, and recordkeeping guidelines.
With techie homeschooling, however, you can tap into the wealth of learning resources on the Internet. Online courses and programs take a lot of the workload off of you.
Although it’s possible to homeschool on a budget, there are definitely some advantages financially of public school. For example, when your child attends public school, you only have to buy school supplies like paper, writing utensils, glue, folders, etc.
In homeschool, the onus to get all of the materials needed for lessons falls on the parent. This also includes paying for all extracurricular activities – including sports. Add in the costs of technology and homeschooling can easily become costly.
I highly recommend doing some research into how to homeschool on a budget. You might be surprised at how many ways there are to save money while homeschooling.
Less time apart
Now, this one can be viewed as both an advantage and a disadvantage. As homeschoolers, you will spend a lot more time together. This can be one of the things that appeals to parents – however, for others, it may become emotionally or physically wearisome to not have time for themselves.
One way to combat this is to have an unstructured time where everyone in the family takes time to themselves. It is also helpful to have social activities for each family member so that they have time each week to do things they enjoy outside of the home.
Lack of support
If there is one thing that can ruin a homeschool journey, it is lack of support. Feeling as though no one understands or supports your goals and not having anyone to turn to when you’re struggling can make anyone want to throw in the towel.
That’s why having local homeschool groups and homeschool co-ops are so important if you do decide to take this path. Having people on your side who really get what you are going through can make all the difference in the world.
I genuinely hope that seeing some of the top advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling has helped you gain a bit of clarity on whether or not this is something that can benefit your family.
Tell me, which of these homeschool pros and cons ring true to you? Do you have any specific concerns I might be able to address? If so, feel free to drop a note in the comments below.